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Reservation Dogs and the Memories of My Father

5:00 AM EDT on October 6, 2022

For the past 125 years or so, everything about Native American presentation in mainstream film and pop culture has felt like it was another passing cultural fad, much like the hippies who wore 60s Indian regalia and high-end moccasins or on.

Reservation Dogs, on the other hand, has kicked in the blocked door and taken over the party, and then some

LandBack, indeed.

Reservation Dogs always gives me a second pause, personally, because it makes me think of my father. He was a Choctaw, born in 1922. When he was in his late 30s, his father – my grandfather – served as Chief of Police in Waurika and had his hand ripped off by a couple of hooded racists. This act of violence from the late 1950s really affected my father, so he switched careers and went from an insurance salesman to a uniformed peace officer.

And while a great policeman he was—himself being a Chief of Police in a small Texas town for many years—mental illness and other maladies robbed him of his golden years, dying in 1999.

I wonder if Reservation Dogs would have been his cup of tea, and if he would have identified with Officer Big (Zahn McClarnon) – two men of equal molds, both guarded and unguarded at the same time.

Where did the loyalties lie?

The series has spurned a lot of memories of my dad, the stories I was told, of effacing demonic creatures to saintly women that put him on of the good path. One time before he died, he told me that his long-dead family was playing in the lake. He asked for my permission to go join them.

Very different…but the exactly same.

It’s one of the threads that Reservation Dogs uses to create a beautiful blanket. These stories begin the true ephemera of the Native experience, regardless of the time and space. This season has gone from the supremely silly (“This is Where the Plot Thickens") to the heart-rendering painful (“Mabel”), giving a whole range of emotions that most people don’t believe we have.

Also, I believe this show makes bold steps to help to erase the disastrous history Oklahoma natives have had to endure for well over 200+ years of white rule, from one of the great disasters of history to the modern tactics of pretend-ian Kevin Stitt, throwing a fit over the tribal laws with the McGirt case, but that is another story.

But, alas, we have persevered. Through acidic humor and natural pathos, we have made it this far, no longer apologizing for having the rich humanity and grandiose culture we have. While some media has usually had its outliers, Reservation Dogs has made it the beginning new volume of our story.

And, maybe, my father’s story.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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